TWS Statement on House Letter Urging Presidential Use of Antiquities Act

Jan 24, 2014

Under the Antiquities Act, Grand Canyon was first protected in 1908.

National Park Service

Matt Keller, National Monuments Campaign Director, 970-946-0906;
Cameron Witten, Government Relations Associate, 202-429-8458;

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 24, 2014) – The Wilderness Society applauds members of Congress on their release today of a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, urging her to support use of the Antiquities Act by President Obama to designate new national monuments. The letter, sponsored by Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Public Lands Subcommittee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) is co-signed by more than half of the House Democratic caucus—109 members—and underscores the tremendous public support for national monument designations in the wake of an immobilizing partisan standstill in Congress over wilderness and other public lands protection bills.  More than 30 conservation bills have been introduced and are awaiting movement by Congress.

The letter states, “In today’s deeply partisan environment, it’s becoming nearly impossible for Congress to make critical conservation decisions.  The 112th Congress was the first Congress in 40 years that failed to permanently protect any of America’s treasured landscapes. The current Congress is on a path to repeat that abysmal record.”

“The Antiquities Act is a historically valid, time-tested, and locally supported approach to enhancing our nation’s system of wild public lands,” says Matt Keller, National Monument Campaign Director for The Wilderness Society in Durango. “With the recent government shutdown and repeated budget cuts, Americans are thinking more than ever about how fortunate this nation is to have parks and protected landscapes that tell our collective stories—whether along the windswept plateau of the South Rim at Grand Canyon, from the torch atop the Statue of Liberty in New York, or contemplating courage at the World War II Pacific Valor National Monument. These are places that strengthen local economies, teach our children about our national values, and protect the human record of our ancestors on the land.”

Since it was first used by President Theodore Roosevelt, sixteen presidents of both political parties have harnessed the Antiquities Act to create more than 130 national monuments and enhance our diverse system of public lands; thirty-two of those monuments were later re-designated as national parks. The Antiquities Act has given Americans some their most treasured natural and cultural landscapes, including Grand Canyon National Park, Muir Woods National Monument, and the Statue of Liberty. National monuments and other public lands also contribute roughly $646 billion to local economies through recreation consumer spending nationwide[1]. Most recently in New Mexico, tens of thousands of citizens have expressed support for legislation to create a monument for the cherished Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks near Las Cruces, where Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is visiting today to attend a public meeting on conservation of this local treasure.

Find the full text of the HRNC letter to Secretary Jewell at:   


Matt Keller